Monday, December 20, 2010

START Should Be Stopped Not Rushed

President Obama has made one of the major fixtures of his foreign policy the reduction of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both Russia and the United States. To that end on April 8th, 2010 he and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty- a.k.a. the New START treaty- that would reduce the number of nuclear warheads deployed by the U.S. from approximately 2,200 to 1,550.

A number of Republican senators, most notably Arizona Senators John Kyl and John McCain, have said that they have significant concerns about the New START treaty as it is currently constituted. They have also said that they will not vote for it in the lame duck session, as has Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The concerns of these, and other, senators revolve manly around the treaty’s weakness on the verification front and what they say are provisions that would limit the ability of the United States to modernize our remaining warheads and develop and deploy missile defense systems in the future.

Also expressing their opposition to ratification of the treaty due to it’s flaws are defense, intelligence and military experts.

“According to Frank Gaffney, head of Center for Security Policy, the new S.T.A.R.T. is bad for America because:
·      It forces the U.S. to reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons, and makes our existing nuclear arsenal unreliable
·      It gravely reduces the ability of the U.S. to defend itself by banning the use of missiles to shoot down incoming missiles
·      It compromises our sovereignty by creating a Bilateral Consultative Commission---which could open the U.S. up to more restrictions without Senate approval
·      It requires sharing missile defense secrets with Russia---who could then use that intelligence against us, or share it with rogue nations
·      It abandons President Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify” monitoring deal with Russia, undermining our ability to know what kind of missiles they are developing and testing
·      It forces the U.S. to eliminate as many as 150 delivery vehicles, even though they may be used for transporting conventional weapons, so it harms other military actions---and it allows Russia to ADD more than 130!
·      It does nothing to address the danger of nuclear terrorism, ignoring the threats we face from Iran and North Korea”

The fact that we will be reducing our ability to pursue missile defense is especially worrisome considering the threats we face go far beyond an unlikely attack from Russia itself. It’s far more likely that a future missile attack on the United States would come from a rogue nation like Iran, North Korea or Venezuela- or a terrorist group (like Hezbollah) acting as a proxy.

As Major General Paul E. Vallely, U.S. Army (retired) points out: Moscow markets a cruise missile launched from a freight container - Russia's Club-K Freight Container cruise missile. This relatively cheap, extra-smart, easy-to-use Club-K Container Missile System, which Moscow has put on the open market (Iran will be first acquirer), allows cruise missiles or Shehabs concealed in freight containers to be launched from a pre-positioned or moving land or sea platform container ship. I have warned of this spear and threat for years now with no response from the powers-to-be. It is virtually undetectable by radar until activated. No wonder, Iran and Venezuela were keenly interested when the Club-K was put on the market at the Defense Services Asia exhibition in Malaysia for $15 million”.

Obama’s new treaty, which Democrats in the Senate like John Kerry and Harry Reid seem bent on passing quickly- even hastily, does nothing to address these concerns. However the treaty may actually weaken our ability to defend ourselves from these emerging threats by putting restrictions on missile defense and requiring us to share missile defense secrets with the very nation that is marketing a cheap and already difficult to detect missile system to rogue nations that are not easily deterred in the first place.

The New START treaty seems to be not just shortsighted, but also a huge step back to a time when our defense policy was based on the idea of a Soviet Union that could be deterred by the idea of mutually assured destruction.

Brigadier General Jim Cash, U.S. Air Force (retired) had this to say about the treaty: “It should not be ratified in this runaway lame-duck Congress, where it is common to pass a bill so we can see what is in it.  I have no problem with reducing our nuclear weapons arsenal, as these weapons are expensive to maintain, and we have more than required for adequate deterrence.  I have a major problem with doing anything that restricts future upgrading [of] that arsenal, or creating a defense system that will render the ICBM obsolete.  That is exactly what Russia wants, as they cannot afford to develop such a system”.

Lt. General Thomas McInerney, U.S. Air Force (retired) added: “… I believe they should not ratify it until [the] Russians acknowledge that the preamble does not stop US Missile Defense efforts plus the Senate should have the minutes of the meetings available to them. Time is not critical now to ratify”.

One must question why President Obama is once again rushing to ram an important and sensitive item through the United States Senate during a lame duck session of Congress. Unlike the DREAM Act, this treaty is likely to gain bipartisan support and ratification once the legitimate concerns of lawmakers are addressed. This is not the kind of thing that should be done in a hasty fashion by a Senate that has one eye on the door before Christmas.

Article II, section 2, of the Constitution states that the president "shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur." This power and responsibility should not be taken lightly. Nor should the members of the Senate allow themselves to be pushed to vote on a flawed treaty, as potentially dangerous as this one, without first having all of their questions and concerns addressed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

First Responders Should Be First Priority

Photo by: Geoff Fear

The lame duck session of the 111th Congress has been fraught with controversy and many have considered the legislation that has been called “crucial” by the current leadership questionable.

The media have been covering several of these legislative priorities ad nauseum, because like the Democratic leaders they share these priorities.

The DREAM Act, which is a backdoor amnesty for illegal immigrants that serve in the armed forces or attend college, has been a major legislative priority for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

The START treaty that many Republicans, particularly John Kyl of Arizona, have many questions about has been something that President Obama has been pushing to get passed quickly.

The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy had been another thing that Harry Reid wanted to ram through the Senate in the lame duck session and that Nancy Pelosi had already managed to get through the House. That issue is resolved as today the Senate overturned the ban of gays serving openly in the military.

No matter how you feel about “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” it’s now law and as retired Lt. General Thomas McInerney- former Vice-Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force- said today on Fox News, what’s important now is that we support the service chiefs in implementing the policy properly so that it doesn’t cause a loss of unit cohesion and in turn a loss of lives. But I digress…

But one issue that the major media have almost entirely ignored is the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010- H.R. 847.This bill (which has already passed the House) would ensure that the firemen, police officers and other 9/11 First Responders that are suffering from an array of illnesses related to their heroic and selfless actions on September 11th, 2001 get the medical care and financial reimbursement that they need and deserve.

Shamefully, the only media outlet that has covered this important legislation is 'The Daily Show' hosted by Jon Stewart. On Thursday night Stewart devoted his entire final show of 2010 to covering the Zadroga Act. He spoke to four 9/11 First Responders about what they’re going through and why they and their fellow first responders need this legislation passed quickly. His other guest was former-Arkansas Governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee (R) who said he supports the bill and urged the Senate to take up the legislation before they adjourn for the holidays.

Stewart’s impassioned coverage led the Huffington Post to run an article, which centered on Governor Huckabee’s appearance and support of the bill.

Majority Leader Harry Reid brought the bill to the floor for a cloture vote on December 9th. However, since neither the tax extension nor the continuing resolution to keep the government operating until February had been dealt with, Republicans and some Democrats did not vote for cloture so that the Senate could debate the bill.

Now that extension of the Bush Era tax cuts has been passed and signed into law, it’s time for the Senate to move quickly to pass a continuing resolution to keep spending levels the same until February of next year and then move to this important piece of legislation. The 9/11 First Responders should be the first priority- not amnesty, not a flawed treaty and not gays serving openly in the military.

Once the Senate passes the Zadroga Act, this illegitimate Congress should go home and let the 112th Congress, elected in November, tackle the other issues next year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Was Contrail Off West Coast China Displaying Naval Power?

You may recall that on November 8th of this year a KCBS/KCAL news helicopter captured video of a contrail off the coast of California. That video was played nationally on Fox News Channel and there was much speculation as to what the source of the contrail was.

The response from the Defense Department and NORAD was that what we saw was simply from a commercial jet and that there was no threat to the United States. But the FAA reports that there were no aircraft flying in the area at that time, on that evening and the neither the DOD or NORAD has identified the jet in question.

Several “experts”, including noted physicist Michio Kaku have made the rounds of the networks to explain how it was a jet and convince the public that any resemblance to a missile contrail was simply an optical illusion.

However, retired U.S. Air Force officers Lt. General Thomas McInerney and Brig. General Jim Cash say that without question the contrail seen just a few miles off the West Coast of the United States was a missile, likely launched from a Chinese missile submarine.

General Cash, who was assigned to NORAD, as a Command Director initially and later as the assistant Director of Operations for NORAD, knows how the system works. He says that in his “opinion there is absolutely no doubt that what was captured on video off the coast of California was a missile launch, was clearly observed by NORAD, assessed by a four-star General in minutes, and passed to the President immediately. That is the way the system works, and heads fall if there is a failure. This is one of the most important tenets of National Defense and its sole purpose of protecting the American people. Even the smallest failure in this system gets intense scrutiny at the highest level”.

General McInerney, who served as an Air Force Assistant Vice-Chief of Staff and has 35 years experience as a fighter pilot, was interviewed by Sean Hannity about the incident where he stated, “That is a missile – it’s launched from a submarine, and you can see it go through a correction course, and then it gives a very smooth trajectory meaning that the guidance system has now kicked in, it’s going at about a 45 degrees away from you that’s why you’re not seeing a lot of vertical velocity… I’ve watched that film 10 times, I’ve watched 15 other Trident films, SM 3… Standard missile threes, and T Lam launches…. I am absolutely certain that that is not an aircraft.” The plume, which is very clear in the video, would seem to indicate a single rocket motor and not a multi-engine commercial airliner or other jet.

If Generals Cash and McInerney, who between them have more than 60 years of experience in the United States Air Force, are correct then President Obama ordered that this event be covered up. It would also seem that the media has decided to play along, as we have not heard or seen anything more about this story since the first couple of days after the footage aired.

Considering the lack of response by the Obama Administration over the past 2 years to missile launches by Iran and North Korea, it is not surprising that the Chinese would have no fear of reprisal if they wanted to demonstrate their military capabilities to the world. It is hardly a secret that China has been patiently building a modern “blue water” navy. It was fairly well known that they possessed attack subs on par with the Russian Akula Class. It appears that U.S. military and civilian intelligence were less well informed about Chinese missile submarines.

What the American people witnessed on November 8th was very likely a warning and a message from the Chinese government- a literal shot across our bow. It was notice that, just as the United States Navy can put carrier battle groups and submarines in the waters that China considers it’s sphere of influence, they too can project naval power within range of our coastline.

Moreover, this incident was a message to the United States and our allies that, contrary to what we may have been led to believe, we are not the last superpower. You can be sure that South Korea and Taiwan got the message, as did President Obama and the U.S. Navy. This may explain why the recent joint naval exercises between the U.S. and South Korean navies in the South China Sea were moved further south, so as to avoid provoking the Chinese- not the North Koreans.

Obama Screwed By Screaming Weiner

Last week President Obama announced that he and congressional Republicans had reached agreement on a compromise that would extend the “so-called” Bush tax cuts for everyone. This same agreement would also extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 months, raise the “Death Tax” to 35%- with a $5 million exemption and temporarily reduce the payroll tax rate by 2%.

Initially most Republicans were in favor of the deal, calling it a victory for everyone, despite the fact that neither the extension of unemployment benefits nor the payroll tax reduction were not paid for and most conservatives oppose the estate tax, since it taxes the same income and assets twice. For their part, liberal Democrats were and are furious, publicly attacking President Obama calling him weak and accusing him of folding too quickly.

Obama reacted to the criticism from his base by lashing out at liberals, calling them sanctimonious and telling them that they could reject the deal and have the “satisfaction of their purist position and no victories for the American people”.

Meanwhile, congressional Democrats like Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York attacked President Obama calling him the “negotiator-in-chief,” not the “leader of our country.” Others like self-described Socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders threatened to filibuster the bill after saying that Obama "effed up" by agreeing to the deal.

President Obama spent most of the week defending the deal in the media, holding 3 news conferences. He also dispatched Vice-President Joe Biden to Capitol Hill to convince Democrat members of the House and Senate to vote for the tax compromise. Biden told Democrats this was the best deal they could get and to take it or leave it.

Having made no headway in bringing his party around, and facing increasing attacks from his base, Obama took the extraordinary step of inviting former-President Bill Clinton to the White House to discuss the situation and ask for advice on how to proceed from a man who famously found himself with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress after the 1993 mid-term elections.

This move was a mixed bag for the current president. On the one hand Clinton said that he thought the deal Obama struck with Republicans was a good one and the best he was going to get in the current political climate. On the other hand a joint press conference with Clinton- which Obama left early, leaving Clinton alone in the White House Press Room- showed Obama to be weak, inexperienced and clearly over his head compared to the former-president. It also created a bizarre sense of déjà vu for many people, as Clinton continued to speak and take questions for nearly 30 minutes after Obama’s departure.

In addition, the news conference, when taken with the defiant rhetoric of outgoing House Speaker Pelosi made it apparent that political novice Obama, unlike most sitting presidents, is not the leader of his political party.

As if Obama didn’t have enough problems it now appears that many Republicans, having had time to more closely examine the deal- which is not paid for, are also opposed to it. This may have something to do with the fact that the Senate bill being floated by Majority Leader Harry Reid is filled with “sweeteners” intended to garner Democrat votes. Things like extensions of subsidies for windmills, bio-diesel and ethanol, as well as, tax credits for rum producers in Puerto Rico- all without any offsetting spending cuts- have ballooned the cost of the bill and caused many congressional Republicans and conservative commentators to reject the deal.

Conservative Charles Krauthammer wrote an article for the Washington Post on Friday, which President Clinton referenced in his press conference, where he says, “Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 - and House Democrats don't have a clue that he did”. Krauthammer points out that what Obama actually has gotten is, “the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package”.

There are now many Republicans, especially those that will be sworn in on January 5th, that believe it would be better to let the current tax rates expire on January 1st and then retroactively cut them in the 112th Congress when they take power.

The president accused Republicans of holding tax cuts for the middle-class hostage, saying: "We all know that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. It's tempting to not negotiate with ‘hostage takers,' unless the hostage gets harmed. In this case the hostage was the American people." This statement is disturbing both because he compares Republicans standing on principle to “hostage takers” and because it might give actual terrorist hostage takers- like Al Qaeda or the Taliban- the idea that if they threaten to harm or kill their hostages Obama might negotiate with them.

But the reality is Obama and the Democrats got a much better deal this week, at least from their perspective, than they will ever get next year- even if they’re too blinded by their ideology to realize it. If the lunatic-left of the Democrat Party attempts to push what Krauthammer calls “Stimulus II” through the lame duck session of Congress this month, they will fail because not enough members of their own caucus are onboard. Then they will be dealt a huge political defeat in January as Republicans pass tax cuts for everyone, without an expiration date.

President Obama, every House Democrat and the 2/3 of Senate Democrats running for reelection in 2012 will be forced to not only defend their NO votes on cutting taxes, but they will actually have to run on the raising taxes in 2 years.

What started out as a botched deal, agreed to by Republicans, that could have been a huge political trap for the GOP has turned into a potentially major political fiasco for the president, instigated by the far left ideologues in the Democrat Party. Of course this assumes that the Republican leadership doesn’t cave and accept the pork-laden bill currently being presented as a compromise by Obama.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

‘Red Eye’ w/Greg Gutfeld Makes The News Funny

Airing at 3:00am Eastern- Monday thru Friday- on the Fox News Channel, ‘Red Eye’ with Greg Gutfeld takes the news/round table discussion format to new levels of funny. This isn’t fake news like ‘The Daily Show’; it’s the news with a comic, acerbic attitude and usually a conservative point of view.

Greg Gutfeld was once an editor of fitness and men’s magazines and a contributor to the Huffington Post. Now he hosts one Fox News Channel’s most popular and innovative programs, along with his “disgusting” sidekick Bill Schulz and ombudsman “TV’s” Andy Levy- A U.S. Army Veteran who served on the DMZ in Korea.

Each episode of ‘Red Eye’ opens with Greg saying something like “Welcome to Red Eye. It’s like Enter the Dragon. If by dragon you mean gerbil.” He then throws to Andy for the Pre-Game Report, where Levy teases the stories that will be covered on that night’s broadcast. Next Gutfeld introduces Bill, their “New York Times Correspondent” known as Pinch (a talking newspaper- voiced by Schulz), and then that evening's three guests -- very often Fox News personalities like John Gibson, Patti Ann Brown and Kimberly Guilfoyle -- or other popular personalities like Ann Coulter, S.E. Cupp and Mike Baker. Additionally, the audience can also expect to be entertained by one of the many talented comedians Red Eye often throws into the mix- like Ed Norton or Michelle Collins.

On ‘Red Eye’ even the guest introductions are racy and hilarious with such classics as, “I’m here with Fox News Channel anchor Patti Ann Browne. She’s so hot and bubbly, that Jacuzzis relax in her.” Or “I’m here with former CIA operative Mike Baker. If brains were a cheese log, I’d pick at his nuts.” And of course who could forget… “Rebecca Gomez Fox News business correspondent, if cuteness were karaoke I’d get drunk and then do her.”

The panel discusses many current news stories with a humorous and sarcastic slant, playing effectively off of one another and making news items ranging from the deadly serious to the ridiculously absurd hysterically funny.

The show makes great use of You Tube videos -- often featuring men dressed as animals, cute animals themselves and still more men in tight leotards doing aerobics.

One of the highlights of the program is the Gregalogue, Greg’s commentary on some story or issue in the news. His insightful, sardonic and fearless screeds are a fan favorite that used to end with his signature signoff, “And if you disagree with me, you’re worse than Hitler”, but nowadays tend to close with something like, “And if you disagree with me, you’re a racist, homophobic, something-phobe”. These commentaries can be read at Gutfeld’s blog: The Daily Gut.

At the midway point, Greg hands it over to Andy Levy for The Halftime Report, where Levy acts as the ombudsman and lets the panel know if they’ve “gotten anything wrong so far”- sometimes making legitimate corrections to factual mistakes, sometimes making fun of slips of the tongue. At this time, Andy also adds his two cents on some of the stories that have been covered in the front half of the program.

The back half of the show may consist of additional stories, viewers' recorded calls to Greg’s direct phone line, a segment where Greg's mother drops by via telephone to offer her opinions or a new segment known as “Stories We Sort of Liked But Not Enough to Include Earlier in the Show But Still Wanted to Talk About So Let's Really Quickly Do Them Now!”- Essentially a lightning round of quick comments on other stories.

To close the program, Greg once again throws it to Andy Levy for the The Post-Game Wrap Up, the segment where Andy gives the guests an opportunity to plug their books, CDs, DVDs or upcoming appearances.

Remarkably, this hybrid of news and comedy earns better ratings in the key demographics than MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and CNN’s primetime line up, thanks in part to TiVo and DVR.

Red Eye has also propelled Greg Gutfeld into the position of commentator on other Fox News programs. He makes weekly appearances on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ on Fridays and ‘Fox News Watch’ on Saturdays. He’s also been a frequent member of Sean Hannity’s “Great American Panel”.

My co-host Daria DiGiovanni and I have had the pleasure of interviewing Greg, Andy and Bill on my BlogTalkRadio program ‘Conservative Republican Forum’, where among other things, we've gotten some insights into not only into what it takes to produce ‘Red Eye’ but also into their political leanings.

We have also hosted several of their regular guests including: S.E. Cupp, Mike Baker and Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter on CRF -- even snagging an interview with conservative author Michelle Malkin before she appeared on ‘Red Eye’.

I wouldn’t recommend that you get all your news from ‘Red Eye’. But if you have a sense of humor and want to supplement your daily dose of hard news and commentary with something innovative, clever and funny, I highly recommend watching (or maybe DVR-ing then watching) ‘Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld’, Monday thru Friday at 3:00am ET.